Dear Microsoft Employees – Don’t Want To Work On Military Contracts? Then Quit

9
1254

There’s a certain little confusion being displayed here over the employer / employee relationship among certain people at Microsoft. The basic deal is that if you’re an employee then you turn up and work and they agree to pay you. Choices as to what it is that the company does, the work that is to be done, rest with the employers, not the employees.

This does not then go into reverse because the employees are hard to find and highly skilled – quite the opposite in fact:

Dozens of Microsoft employees have signed a letter protesting the company’s $480 million contract to supply the U.S. Army with augmented-reality headsets intended for use on the battlefield. Under the terms of the deal, the headsets, which place holographic images into the wearer’s field of vision, would be adapted to “increase lethality” by “enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy,” according to a government description of the project. Microsoft was awarded the contract in November. “We are a global coalition of Microsoft workers, and we refuse to create technology for warfare and oppression,” the employees state in the letter, which was published on an internal message board and circulated via email to employees at the company Friday.

That’s entirely fine, absolutely and entirely your choice, of course it is. We no longer – thankfully – have conscription and thus how you rent out your labour is entirely up to you. It’s the method of exercising that choice which is under debate here:

Some Microsoft Corp employees on Friday demanded that the company cancel a $480 million hardware contract to supply the U.S. Army, with 94 workers signing a petition calling on the company to stop developing “any and all weapons technologies.”

No, really. If you think you shouldn’t labour on military technologies then don’t labour on military technologies. But you do need to realise how this all works. You are employees here and if your terms of employment are not to your liking then there’s the door, quit and go find another job.

You might have noticed that there’s something of a shortage out there of good engineers. That’s why the wages on offer are so good. And why there’ll be no problem in finding another job given your moral stance here.

The correct response to your employer doing something you don’t like to go find another employer. So, stand by your moral principles and quit.

9
Leave a Reply

avatar
3 Comment threads
6 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
6 Comment authors
DaedalusTDRingedPloverQuentin VoleJonathan Harston Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Quentin Vole
Guest
Quentin Vole

But, but, I’m not fully vested yet!

Matt Ryan
Guest
Matt Ryan

And it’s much easier to sign a moaning letter than actually act on your principles. But then that’s lefties for you. What do they imagine might happen in a country without a functional military anyway? Someone has to make the armaments they use.

RingedPlover
Guest
RingedPlover

Armaments are used for defence too…

TD
Guest
TD

Indeed. One might think that even the most lefty liberal probably feels a bit more warmly toward the designer of the Spitfire than to Herr Messerschmidt.

TD
Guest
TD

There’s nothing new about this. Thirty or forty years ago I knew people who would not work for defense contractors. Fair enough. Their skills were such that there were plenty of other options available to them. In fairness to the Microsoft crew, they were employed by a firm that they did not think was going to be a defense contractor. If that is changing they are within their rights to object. After all, people have long tried to sway their employers on some issue or another; what else are unions about? Microsoft’s management can respond to as they see fit.

Jonathan Harston
Guest
Jonathan Harston

Every military base I’ve worked on has had PCs running Windows, that makes Microsoft a military supplier. The Microsoft workers should have been resigning in droves decades ago.

Quentin Vole
Guest
Quentin Vole

“Windows for Warships”

TD
Guest
TD

Fair point. However, in that sense almost every firm supplying a product in the US is a defense contractor.

Daedalus
Guest
Daedalus

There is a shortage of good engineers that’s for sure, having great difficulty in recruiting any. Not really sure the wages on offer are so good though, considering its supposedly one of the professions. It’s kept me employed for 40 odd years though so I shouldn’t really complain.